Monday the 13th of April – Mt Werong to Jenolan caves road and South Hampton

Today is a special day as I might be able to reach Lithgow where I’ll take a train to get to Sydney.

Last night I managed to get to this beautiful and huge Hut. Having access to facilities makes thing quicker and easier. I have a fire to cook my breakfast and a tank full of water that I can use after treating it.

I go for a wander to do my morning duties, I believe there is no toilet and go dig a hole. Only when I come back I notice a toilet block standing proud on a little hill. It was sort of hidden and as I arrived in the dark, I could not see it.

I leave the hut with a big smile on my face, there’s only 100 kms to go. Today or tomorrow I’m in Sydney. The road is very smooth and pleasant. I spot some black cockatoos, one of my favourite birds. They are a little shy so it’s a privilege to be able to observe them.

At the beginning of the afternoon I approach Jenolan caves. Music on, I’m enjoying those smooth downhills. I’m imagining that the day will keep being awesome and pleasant.

I pass the turn off that leads to Jenolan caves. It’s a steep descent that should be avoided as it’s always followed by a steep uphill. Unfortunately my road leads me to a locked gate. I check the route notes and see that I’m allowed to go around the gate and get in. Once in I see many signs warning trespassers they will be prosecuted. It’s another pine farm. I can hear the trucks working, cutting trees and carrying away logs. Better stay well away from the machinery.

can't miss that sign!

can’t miss that sign!

The undulations become a little more difficult to handle, but I’m still enjoying all this. I imagine how it’s going to be like to be home. I’m excited and stop every now and then to check my mobile phone, chat and make plans for the week.

another huge pine farm

another huge pine farm

Suddenly the route become less clear. They mention to stay on the west side of the fence or something along those lines, but its difficult to understand the notes. I keep going and once I reach the bottom of a hill, things start to make more sense. There is a track that goes straight up quite steeply, but a number of signs indicate that this is private and National Trail users must not go in. There are so many signs, it is almost ridiculous. These people, for whatever reason, really don’t want us to get close. So instead of riding on the main road, I have to follow the markers and ribbons throughout the forest. There is no trail at all, this is a dense forest with dead tree limbs all over the place. At first it’s fun. I like bush bashing, but after a while I realise how slow I’m progressing. It is stupid to want to push a very heavy bike through a forest. I start to hate those who don’t want me to go over their property. Why? Give me one reason.

The pedals are in my way and keep hitting my legs. I have to lift the bike above trunks and other obstacles. I thought I would be able to ride a good 80 kms today, but the BNT has decided I won’t. After one hour I’ve moved 1 km. The ribbon and markers are sporadic but I have my bearings. This is becoming annoying. I check my watch and start to worry. It will be dark in an hour or so and I’m still stuck in this jungle while I can hear a truck or a car going back and forth on the road above. It’s so annoying that I have to be struggling in this mess. Only a hundred meters away there is this beautiful road. It should have taken me less than 30 minutes and now I’m here for two hours just to progress 2kms. I have enough and decide to sneak in and use the road for the last 200 meters. I overshoot a little and have to go back 30 meters to go over the fence again and be back on the official BNT, clear from the private property. As soon as I do that, I hear the car coming. The same noise as before, same engine. I’m out of his reach but the car stops not far and I feel observed. This is a little weird. I progress further and as I’m about to merge to another wider forest road, the car, a sort of old blue pick up truck, is there. The driver inside does not move and we quickly look at each other. I push my bike further and notice all the signs informing this is a private property under 24/7 video surveillance. They basically have cameras around the property to monitor trekkers and other potential trespassers. This guy must have seen me using the private road for 5 minutes and came to escorted me out or make sure I’m not coming back.

At this time I still wonder who or what could be inside that land, and why on earth don’t they fix all this broken wired fences instead of relying on bush cameras and a creepy security guard.

With all that it’s getting late. I ride as fast as I can and know it will get dark before I reach the campsite. I’ve seen one on the map a few kilometres away. The good news is that it’s on a sealed road, so even if it gets dark, it should not cause any trouble.

Once on the sealed road, I turn a light on. It’s a quiet road and I can see and hear the trucks coming from far away, which gives me plenty of time to park on the shoulder and stay clear of the road.

It’s completely dark now, but I make it to the campsite. Its more like a rest area at the junction of two roads. Not ideal but it will do.  Part of me wants to push on, ride all night long and make it to Sydney. However, while I’m pondering, I spot a campervan. Getting closer I hear some girls speaking German. I greet them and wait for an an answer to let me know that they can’t light the fire. I come over and introduce myself and I offer to start their fire. They had prepared everything but just didn’t know how to do it.  A moment later we all have a small fire, and that is enough for me to cook dinner. Now I must get some sleep but I’m just too excited about the fact that I’ve got only 30km to go before the train station, and its mostly sealed road. Before going to bed I send a few messages and purchase my new tent from the US. I have given up on the other ones and I will need a decent shelter for when I get back on the trail.

Track Map

Diary Map

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